Learning to Proceed without Certainty

Friday, 5th July 2024

By Joanne Grobbelaar – Stop, Pause, Think, Now Act

Stop and think for a moment – how often did you not take action last year because you were not certain of the outcome?

Often, when people start to work with me, it’s because they hear stories of the successful brands, businesses and people I’ve supported to build business strategies and how they have flourished, grown, and built resilience as a result of the work we did together.

How they tried new things, not quite got it right, tweaked and tried again.

I don’t have a crystal ball and can never promise a specific outcome. I do have a good sense of strategy and how to manage expectations. Over the years, we have had INCREDIBLE outcomes when my clients do the work. Having a guide on the side helps with growing and knowing everything is figure-out-able.

I speak to people stifled by the desire for certainty and predictability; the notion of proceeding without a clear roadmap can be daunting. When I started this business in 2008, I did not have a clear road map. I had a map of the world, and that was it!

I wanted something different. I wanted to be in charge of my growth, career, and earnings. I also deeply sensed that well-being and health needed to be at the heart of everything I did and do today. We can not build healthy businesses and careers with unwell people.

Suppose you are thinking about starting a new business, embarking on a personal development journey, introducing a groundbreaking product, or joining a fresh social group. What has stopped or is stopping you from doing these things? Is it the fear of the unknown?

The fear of the unknown often hinders our growth, connection, and sense of belonging.

The irony lies in that actual progress and fulfilment often come from stepping into the uncertain abyss, where one must learn to navigate without guarantees.

When we have a constant quest for assurances, it can challenge us to move forward in our lives and careers.

To help you learn to proceed without certainty, I’ve pulled together a side order of practical strategies supporting you in overcoming the fear of the unknown, along with three ways to recover when things don’t go as planned.


Recently, I’ve seen more of society place a premium on certainty. I’ve recently seen more people seek assurances in every aspect of their lives. I get it; since 2020, we’ve lived in uncertain, scary times. I’ve also seen people selling ‘certainty’. Then, I saw people disappointed when the ‘certainty’ they were sold did not happen. Often, they’d paid a high premium for that ‘certainty’.

The fear of failure and the desire for control often drive us to meticulously plan every step, avoiding any potential deviations from the expected outcome.

The quest for certainty can paradoxically stifle our growth and limit our experiences. 

Business owners and entrepreneurs sometimes hesitate to launch innovative ideas without a guaranteed return on investment.

Individuals are sometimes reluctant to step out of their comfort zones, avoid learning new skills or explore unfamiliar territories.

The fear of rejection or judgment prevents us from joining new social groups, hindering our ability to forge meaningful connections and a sense of belonging.


When we are reluctant to proceed without certainty, it has profound implications for our personal and collective growth. When we insist on having a clear roadmap, we limit our potential for innovation and creativity. Actual progress often involves embracing ambiguity and navigating uncharted waters. Scary, I know.

A growth mindset is particularly crucial in the dynamic landscape of business ownership and entrepreneurship, where groundbreaking ideas emerge from a willingness to take calculated risks.

The fear of the unknown can lead to stagnation. 

Learning a new skill, pursuing a passion project, or simply trying something different becomes a formidable challenge when we demand guarantees of success. The same principle applies to our social lives – the reluctance to step into new social circles can hinder the formation of diverse connections and a sense of belonging beyond our immediate comfort zone.


To break free from the shackles of certainty, I want you to cultivate a growth mindset that embraces ambiguity and values the process over the outcome, whatever the outcome is.

Some of my top practical strategies to help you overcome the fear of uncertainty are –

How to Embrace a Growth Mindset

Cultivate a growth mindset by viewing challenges as opportunities for learning and development. Understand that setbacks are not failures but rather stepping stones toward success. Embracing a growth mindset allows you to shift your focus from the fear of uncertainty to the excitement of continuous learning and improvement.

Focus on the Process, Not Just the Outcome

Instead of fixating on the end result, redirect your attention to the journey itself. Write down and take time to appreciate the value of the experience, the lessons learned, and the personal growth that occurs along the way. This is a massive part of the 1:1 work I do with individuals and businesses. By seeing the process you’ve worked through and emphasising the process, you’ll be better equipped to navigate uncertainty with resilience and adaptability going forward. You will build real-time evidence on what worked and what didn’t. How can we do things differently next time?

Develop a Tolerance for Discomfort

The big one – learning to tolerate discomfort. Uncertainty often brings discomfort, but true growth occurs in these moments. We support you in practising stepping outside your comfort zone regularly. Whether taking on new challenges, engaging in unfamiliar experiences, or confronting your fears.

As you become more accustomed to discomfort, youll develop the resilience to proceed without absolute certainty.


Sometimes, things don’t go to plan. It is a fact of business and life, even with the best intentions and efforts. When faced with unexpected setbacks, it’s important to have strategies in place for recovery.

Here are my three ways to navigate and bounce back from the unexpected –

Learn and Iterate

Here is where the growth mindset reminder comes in again. Treating your setbacks as valuable learning experiences is a way of being for the rest of your days, taking the time to think through and analyse what went wrong, often with the help of somebody like me, identifying areas for improvement, and using the newfound knowledge to iterate and refine your approach. Adapting and pivoting in the face of adversity is a hallmark of resilience.

Seek Support and Feedback

Don’t face challenges in isolation. Reach out to mentors, colleagues, friends, or support networks for guidance and feedback. External perspectives can provide valuable insights and alternative solutions, helping you navigate uncertainties more clearly.

Practice Self-Compassion

In the face of setbacks, it’s crucial to practice self-compassion. Self-compassion can be tricky; my Flip The Thinking Tool Kit HERE can help with this. The toolkit will help you learn to avoid self-blame and negative self-talk, recognising that everyone encounters obstacles on their path of growth. Leaning into treating yourself with the same compassion, kindness, and understanding you would offer to a friend facing similar challenges.

Learning to proceed without certainty is not about embracing recklessness. But rather about acknowledging the inherent unpredictability of life and embracing it with open arms.

By letting go of the constant need for assurances, we pave the way for personal growth, meaningful connections, and a profound sense of belonging.

The journey into uncertainty is not void of challenges. With 16 years of business ownership, there have been many challenges. It’s been in the challenges that my clients and I have discovered our true potential.

So, take that leap, venture into the unknown, and watch your life unfold in ways you never thought possible.

Book a 1:1 strategy call HERE to help you or your team move without uncertainty and with strategy. I’d love to talk to you and learn more.